The crossover craze isn’t limited to just North America.
Once in a while, we here at TTAC cast our gaze outward, beyond our shores. A quick cruise of global automotive news shows that Maruti Suzuki helped drive big growth in the multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) segment in India in 2019. Yep, people on the other side of the world like crossovers just as much as we do.
While much of the Indian automotive market saw contraction, with some segments in the double digits, MPVs saw a segment growth of 35 percent. The market share of these vehicles has risen from 5 percent to 8 percent. At its peak, the MPV’s market share was 10 percent.
Those numbers were driven by launches from Kia, Toyota, and Maruti Suzuki. The newest generation of the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga accounted for nearly a 50 percent share of the segment. The Ertiga competes against a bunch of vehicles we’ve never heard of, including the Renault Triber and Toyota Innova. Maruti’s XL6 is also a player in the segment, at the luxury end, along with the Mahindra Marazzo.
Shashank Srivastava, a Maruti Suzuki exec, told the Economic Times that design is number one on the minds of MPV buyers. That seems hard to believe, since so many of our crossovers are anonymous blobs of bland, but perhaps life is different on the other side of the globe.
“It has been an exceptional year for us in the MPV segment. MPVs grew by over 100% led by the new Ertiga. With the new-generation vehicle, we are not only seeing the percentage of first car buyers moving up, but also an increasing number of buyers who are affluent and prefer a top-end variant,” said Srivastava.
The share of gas-powered MPVs is up from around 5 percent a few years ago to at least 35 percent now; Maruti Suzuki says interest in compressed natural-gas variants of the Ertiga is also high. Overall, the percentage of first-time buyers for Ertiga has gone from 16 percent to 37 percent over the past seven years.
Gaurav Vangaal, country lead for production forecasting at IHS Markit, told the Times that MPVs are becoming more appealing to retail customers because of increased focus on ride comfort, design, and features. All while practicality and interior space still matter.
“MPVs today have similar specifications to the high-on-aspiration SUVs. Barring the difference on exteriors, there is very little to differentiate on the inside. Fleets always formed a sizeable share of the MPV market, but with new-generation vehicles, we expect increased traction from personal buyers too,” Vangaal was quoted as saying.
Sounds like what execs and analysts say about crossovers in this part of the world.